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Jean-Yves Gilg

Editor, Solicitors Journal

IT failure will cost British Airways 'heavily'

IT failure will cost British Airways 'heavily'


Group litigation 'very unlikely' unless airline doesn't pay up, says lawyer

British Airways could face hefty compensation claims after a large-scale IT failure left tens of thousands of holidaymakers stranded at Heathrow and Gatwick over the bank holiday, according to a flight delay lawyer.

Thousands of flights were cancelled at the weekend after a power surge affected BA’s operating systems, including the back-up system. The airline has said today it is operating a full flight schedule and apologised for the frustration and inconvenience experienced by customers, some of whom are still without their luggage.

Coby Benson, flight delay legal manager at Bott & Co, told Solicitors Journal the incident will ‘cost BA heavily’ but said it was possible the airline could recover costs from any other party involved.

Article 13 of the Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004 states that airlines may be able to recover compensation payments from any party who may be at fault for the circumstances occurring. It’s possible therefore that BA will seek to recover at least some costs from the party at fault, such as any third-party IT company.

On Sunday British Airways said travellers affected would be rebooked or have their ticket price refunded but a spokesman told The Telegraph compensation would be looked at on a ‘case by case’ basis.

Under EU regulation 261/2004, Benson said, holidaymakers would have the option of demanding several remedies, including a full flight refund within seven days, rebooking their ticket for a different date, or re-routing on a replacement flight with any airline. Consequential losses such as lost hotel rooms would need to be covered by insurance policies, however.

He added that a group litigation order was ‘very unlikely’ unless the airline didn’t compensate passengers. ‘If BA don’t pay, however, and it needs to go to court, then I suspect the courts will nominate a particular test case, which could potentially go to the Court of Appeal.’

Matthew Rogers is a legal reporter at Solicitors Journal | @lex_progress